In the world of professional baseball players with minor league options, Jackie Bradley, Jr. and Steven Wright are on the positive side of the carousel, as they were both called up today to join the struggling Red Sox in Toronto. Severely underperforming players (like Allen Craig and Robbie Ross, Jr) with minor league options can also be sent down, as they were in this case.
Though he is owed about $25 million on his current contract, Allen Craig still had minor league options (as BSI reported last night) since he had not used his allotted three while he was with St. Louis and has under five years of service time, which would have required his consent to be sent down if he had passed that benchmark. Most Red Sox fans are aware of Craig’s almost historic futility at the plate recently. Though he provides solid defense in the outfield and at first base, when the team is struggling as the Red Sox have been to generate runs, Craig’s struggles become even more glaring. After two 90 RBI seasons in 2012 and 2013, the Red Sox might have thought they were getting a steal when they acquired Craig and starting pitcher Joe Kelly at the trade deadline last year. An injury to the Lisfranc bone in his foot seems to have had a devastating effect on Craig’s hitting. In 166 plate appearances with Boston, Craig has two home runs, four RBI and an unbelievably bad .427 OPS.
Ross has struggled to a 6.17 ERA in 11.2 innings out of the bullpen this season. He was an outstanding reliever in Texas in 2012 and 2013, posting ERA of 2.22 and 3.03 in those seasons. As with many pitchers, an attempt to convert him to starter has led to disaster. A 6.20 ERA last year and this year’s struggles have required the Red Sox send him down to re-discover his effectiveness.
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This is Bradley Jr.’s second time with the team this season, though up for only one day then sent back down. Wright is making his third trip to the majors. Wright was up for one day in April and about five days early in the season. Wright got the win in relief in that epic 19 inning marathon in NY a few weeks ago. Bradley Jr. has not gotten into a game this season, but with Craig in the minors, he will get Craig’s playing time and hopefully produce offensively.
The Red Sox hope the infusion of these two players can get them out of their current funk. The team has lost 14 of their last 21 games.